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On habits and writing

One cannot be a prolific writer without the noun part of that, so I've got to get better about it. Here, there, everywhere. Spending time in a college of education is... interesting. Many of my colleagues are returning to school following periods of work as teachers. They've experienced public schools as students, teachers, and parents. They see the micro effects of macro issues. They see the macro issues, and to some extent, understand them. I do not share their perspective (having been raised in Catholic schools, taken no breaks in my education, and having no children), and I recognize this as a deficiency.

To that end, I'm trying to at least acquaint myself with macro issues facing the whole of the (US) educational system while I simultaneously thoroughly explore the field of statistics education. TED has furnished some good talks about issues facing education, as have documentaries on Netflix. TED talks are usually rather well done, and in the future I'll likely post some that would serve statistics courses well.

Of course, just writing for the sake of writing isn't all it is cracked up to be. I was discussing poor writing with a colleague and Mathgen came up. Mathgen creates mathematics papers that look professional but are actually just... randomly generated nonsense. Some have even been accepted to journals.

Lastly, I'll leave with a few thoughts I'm ruminating on due to the qualitative methods course I am taking (more for me to remember later on, but if you, the reader, want to chime in that, that'd be great):

  • If one rejects a gender-binary in a philosophical (not political) sense, is it possible to still subscribe to a feminist epistemology/theoretical framework (again, in a philosophical not political sense)?
  • Feyerabend seems to place Science on equal footing with Magic and Religion, but puts the onus on science to prove its claims in arguments. That is, a 'scientist' would be required to use science in an argument, but a religious devotee could participate validly in the same argument with 'because I believe' or something similar. Is this an accurate perspective? What role does critical introspection have in all philosophies such as science and religion?

Both of these ideas may have (reasonably) clear-cut answers of which I am not aware. I'm new to qualitative research and epistemologies and frameworks therein. Moreover, I'm still not through with Against Method yet, so there may be obvious answers in there. Just my thoughts for now, though.


  1. Ethan
    Ethan February 16, 2013

    My answer to your question 1) is "not necessarily." I think there are plenty of feminisms that have room for rejecting the gender-binary. I'm curious, though -- what's the distinction you're drawing between philosophical and political?

    I'm not familiar with Feyerabend, but from your summary that argument sounds like poppycock. Many belief systems have their forms of rhetoric and discourse -- the rich conversations of theology, Buddhist scholarship, etc. shows that many religious people have standards for valid discourse other than "I believe."

  2. Doug
    Doug February 19, 2013

    I'm inclined to agree with you about the number numerous feminisms affording plenty of room for a variety of views on gender, including non-binary. I spoke with the professor I am taking for my qualitative research class, and she specifically cited a few types, including post-structural feminism (because it would indeed reject many/all labels, including the labeling of gender). The distinction between political and philosophical is one of pragmatism. I accept, and I think some feminist writers have, too (I don't have books with me now to cite), that we can talk and debate all we want and have our own beliefs and ideas, but in the end saying something like "Women should have a right to contraception" is an oversimplification of many beliefs and may be incongruous with one's philosophical view. It gets the point across, and advances the cause, but is grounded in the messy world of emotions and politics from which philosophical speaking and writing is removed.

    Feyerabend is an interesting author. I'm trying to not form any conclusions right now about what I've read, but instead trying to just digest it and see what happens down the road. Against Method is definitely going to be a book that I can see myself reading and re-reading. (I haven't read much philosophy, so I'm trying to get a slightly better grasp of the big ideas and people now. Slowly.)

    I fully agree that there are many people of many religions that are will and able to engage in debates that are based on reason other than "I believe." However, these (rather plentiful) cases are 'uninteresting' in that they don't really challenge theories that one can come up with. To identify the weaknesses in any belief/theory/definition, one should look at the extremes. A caricature of a religious extremist may be unlikely to be encountered in daily life, but proves a useful tool by which one can compare other beliefs, ideas, and definitions.

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